A clever engineer of gizmos at his technology company, Alain Getty (Laurent Lucas) is transferred to a new location where he and his wife Bendecite (Charlotte Gainsbourg) invite the boss Richard Pollock (Andre Doussolier) and his strangely aloof and ascerbic wife Alice (Charlotte Rampling). The discovery of a lemming (far from its Scandinavian habitat) that's blocked their sink adds to the disquieting time for the Gettys, which gets worse when Alice returns one afternoon, and squats in their spare bedroom. To their horror, she locks herself in and trashes the room - before a gunshot is heard. Destabilised, the couple's seemingly perfect life has no come unstuck and when Richard makes a pass at Benedicte, Alain becomes furiously jealous. But the spectre of Alice hangs over them still and the betrayals take their toll.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Dominik Moll likes to create stories where an otherwise level headed man (or woman) who has everything under control, begins to fall apart through external influences on his life. He did this with wickedly dark humour in Harry He's Here To Help, who would do ANYthing to make his hosts' wish come true - taking vague wishes terrifyingly literally. It was genuinely dark and eerily credible.
Lemming is not as successful, even though all the performances are superb, with Charlotte Rampling icy, tough and filled with a lifetime of matrimonial angst, yet seductive when required; Charlotte Gainsbourg has a difficult role as the wife who is stressed by the new environment, by the lemming incident, and especially by the disastrous dinner party that lurches their life off its safety platform. But she delivers, and makes Benedicte a calm yet vulnerable character with whom we can identify.
Andre Doussolier gives his usual, reliably complex character portrait of a powerful man with moments of humility and a secret addiction to call girls. Laurent Lucas is terrific as the disintegrating man, assaulted first by his employer's bizarre marriage and its impact, then by Alice's dirty tricks and finally by the betrayal he sees when Richard seems to have seduced Benedicte away. But this is where the film hits a bad patch of icy surface and lots of fog, sliding around the edges of credibility and keeping itself well hidden behind the fog of psychological voodoo.
If it weren't for the irreparably flawed third act, Lemming would have made a big impression as a complex psychosexual thriller.
Review by Louise Keller:
There is a flying webcam, a rodent in the kitchen drain, dinner with the boss and his wife, a neighbour reprimanding his son and a seduction. If you think these ingredients make for an incongruous combination, you are spot on. Like his previous unforgettable film Harry He Is Here To Help, writer director Dominik Moll has crafted a haunting drama about two couples that is anything but straight forward. A cross between a psychological and supernatural thriller, the film is intriguing, baffling and often confusing as the four leads dance around each other metaphorically, and Charlotte Rampling delivers her most striking performance in years. While it's easy to be wild about Harry, Lemming is less successful in that it tantalizes without fully delivering.
As model couple Alain (Laurent Lucas) and Benedicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg) prepare for dinner with his boss, the mood is playful and loving. He is mentally sharp; she is calm. But when an apologetic Richard (Andre Dussollier) and his surly wife Alice (Charlotte Rampling) arrive late, an unpleasant mood hovers above the dining table. Why is Alice intent on not only humiliating her husband, but keen to intrude into the younger couple's happiness. Reflecting her black mood, Alice's sunglasses never leave her face, and her tirade of barbs and accusations trigger a sequence of events that promotes mistrust.
Moll's speciality is taking an ordinary situation and layering it with an underlying sense of terror. Silence and sound is used to great effect to accentuate discomfort and anxiety. The anticipation of where the film is going to lead is perhaps Lemming's strongest suit, when all the action is internal. But in the second half, things are drawn out and I felt as restless as the lemming locked in its cage.
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DOMINIK MOLL INTERVIEW
CAST: Laurent Lucas, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, Andre Doussolier, Jacques Bonnaffe, Veronique Affholder, Michel Cassagne,
PRODUCER: Michel Saint-Jean
DIRECTOR: Domink Moll
SCRIPT: Domink Moll, Gilles Marchand
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean-Marc Fabre
EDITOR: Mike Fromentin
MUSIC: David Whitaker
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michel Barthelemy
RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: October 26, 2006 (other cities later)
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.